Eugene was a talented and successful preacher. The foundation of the Missionary Oblates aimed at preaching the Gospel to the most abandoned. In many of his writings we have come across texts insisting that the missionaries take special care of this ministry and ensure that it flows from the source of their personal and communitarian relationship with God.

In his diary, which was private, he regularly comments critically on some of the orators who came to Marseilles as itinerant preachers for occasional sermons. Eugene’s preaching standards were high and he had no time for the platitudes that were sometimes expressed.

In the evening, I went to hear Father Dufêtre’s sermon in St. Martin’s. He preached a sermon on religion that was not anything special. With his sonorous, strong voice one can understand how he can keep the promises he made to preach twice a day, even without risking the sacrifice of his life as he proclaimed he was ready to do for the good people of Marseilles, who must by now be used to hearing themselves flattered by every preacher who mounts a pulpit in Marseilles.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 12 February 1837, EO XVIII

A week later, a comment on another itinerant preacher

I went to M. Clerc’s sermon at St. Cannat’s. His discourse on human respect, more philosophical than Christian, could not have been understood by his audience, made up of good ladies and a small number of uninstructed men. God forbid that every preacher preached like that. It is not talent he is lacking in, nor logic, but the sensitivity, which is given only to men who proclaim Jesus Christ and him crucified in a different way than the orators did in pagan Rome or Athens.

Eugene de Mazenod’s Diary, 19 February 1837, EO XVIII

What do people say about our preaching and charitable works – do they see us saying and doing things through the eyes of the crucified Savior?

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  1. Eleanor Rabnett, Oblate Associate says:

    I am always reminded of St. Paul when I think of Eugene and those early missionaries as they ‘opened’ the Word of God. The words were not empty, nor did they point only to how God loved Paul but it was how he lived that love.

    I think of what it means to see and say through the eyes of our crucified Saviour. It is a view point that is unrivaled and that is open to all of creation. No games are possible and everything becomes not about us, but rather about loving who is before us – all, not just some. It is not a matter of how we look or sound for appearances can be deceiving and words can be empty.

    It is in this way that we become co-workers, co-operators of the Saviour, joining him on the Cross. Joining Jesus on the Cross – it is in this way that we learn to see through the eyes of our Beloved Saviour. It is from that viewpoint that we speak and serve, that we love and share. This is what allows us to surpass all of our own wounds, opening our hearts to be filled with compassion for all others, dare I say for all of creation.

    Everything then comes from living in and with and through the eyes of our crucified Saviour. Such is the nature of so great a love. And the mystery of God’s love is that we lose ourselves in that gaze and then find ourselves in each other.

    Our words and our deeds then complete the image for they are not about ourselves they are about our Beloved. We allow ourselves, in fact we ask that we become the instrument, the bridge for others to hear God’s voice and raise their eyes to those of the Saviour. We share our experiences of seeing through the eyes of infinite love. It is no longer about us, but then it never was.

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